Babies survive

How has the human race lasted this long? Without modern medical training and facilities, for example, how did babies get born all those thousands of years – and stay alive?

How many cornfields were makeshift delivery rooms?

You would have thought the surviving mothers would have told their daughters: “Don’t even think of getting pregnant.” Something in the experience makes mothers forget the pain and turmoil, it is said.

Looking back over more than 20 years, I am reminded of the time our third grandchild was born. My wife and I were at the Florida hospital as Barbie lay hooked up to monitors that counted contractions.

Later, JoAn and I stood outside the nursery, our noses pressed against the glass, waiting for our first view of shiny new Madison Nicole. Behind that glass, workers were busily cleaning and caring for recent additions to the population.

We were amazed by how tough newborns are. I’ve always been warned to hold a baby gently, to support its little head, to be careful not to touch the soft spot covering what will become – the day after the teen years end – a brain.

Each time I hold a baby, I worry I’m going to break it or, at the very least, render it inoperable. You’ve gotten the same warning, right?

Let me ease your mind, however. Those warnings about newborns don’t seem to apply to the workers in the nursery. These people know something we don’t because – even 20 years ago – they were processing babies like so many Fords on the assembly line.

The women behind that glass put Madison through her first hour on Earth. One scooped her up like a football and whisked her to the scale for her weigh-in (7 pounds, 4 ounces).

Another got a soapy rag and scrubbed the baby down as though scraping dead paint from an old Buick. I think she used Ajax on the tough spots.

After Madison was nothing but a tiny, writhing glob of soap suds, a worker grabbed her up in one hand and held her under the faucet in the deep sink. She turned our granddaughter over and over a few times to rinse all the soap off.

By the time our granddaughter was in her bassinet, she was rubbed red. Then she got her first diaper, an impossibly tiny garment, and a warm blanket.

I looked around for signs that said “Two days without an accident,” but there being none, I assumed a really good – or really bad – safety record. We knew we would never hose our babies off in the sink like that.

JoAn and I had been through that experience before and would again. No. 1 Kelsey’s nursery treatment was the same, but we missed No. 9 Khloe’s first hours because she was in another country.

And now, little Madison Ni­cole has grown up and added to the population with Mason, who also survived thoroughly modern cornfields on his first day of life


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